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Quotes On Politics

10 Oct

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx
“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” Aesop
“He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.” Napoleon Bonaparte




22 Sep

“It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.” John Maynard, Lord Keynes

Exquisitely precise measurements may often be useless if only large differences are important, and just because we can measure something to many decimal points doesn’t always imply accuracy or importance.

Something good to remember when interpreting political polls more than a year before the election.


28 Aug

I shake my head in disbelief as I listen to some of the candidates on the stump. Then I remember that they are telling the voters what the voters want to hear. That’s frightening to contemplate.

Homo sapiens

8 Aug

I was stopped at a red light the other day watching a car slowly cross the intersection in front of me when a pickup truck flew past me and T-boned the car. Fortunately, no one was injured.

I suspect the pickup’s driver was headed to a job site (tools in the back looked like he was a carpenter), and he had something other than driving on his mind. The red light didn’t register with him. I’ve done things like that, and I suspect many reading this have done it, too. We were just lucky enough not to hit somebody.

Driving just isn’t complex enough to keep our minds occupied. Its sheer ease invites us to let our minds wander, to think about work, music, family, vacations, or sex. They are all more interesting than driving.

The accident also highlights an annoying trait of humans as a species: in spite of remarkable accomplishments in science, art, and philosophy, we still keep a virtual stranglehold on “stupid,” and we show no signs of letting go. That’s true of the pickup’s driver, of me, and probably of most of the people I know. It kind of defines being human.

If you don’t believe me, watch the news during this election season.

Is “Rational Man” an Oxymoron?

18 Oct

It was announced recently that “in the last 34 years, the average October temperature in Barrow, Alaska, has risen by more than 7°C − an increase that, on its own, makes a mockery of international efforts to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above their pre-industrial level.”

The flu kills 5,000 Americans annually. Vaccines are available, and people are reminded repeatedly to get vaccinated, yet all too many don’t. Deaths due to guns and motorized vehicles cause roughly 60,000 deaths a year in the United States, and global warming threatens to lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages along our seacoasts. Congress has effectively declared all of those off-limits for regulation, but is panicking over Ebola and demanding immediate action over a disease that has infected 2 people in the United States and killed one.

That this behavior is considered normal and even rewarded by voters is sobering.

Pants, Belts and the Economy

2 Apr

A parable of Pants, Belts and the Economy

My brother–I’ll call him Bill for the story–was alone on the farm after chores one night and leading a Clyde stallion from one barn to another when the fool horse decided to settle who was boss–an annual discussion with this horse.  The horse reared and struck at Bill, narrowly missing his head.

Bill grabbed the lead rope with both hands to bring the horse under control, but he forgot he’d lost weight and wasn’t wearing a belt.   His pants fell to his ankles.   Bill and the horse fought back and forth, in itty-bitty steps, over the two hundred foot space between the barns before the stallion settled down.

Bill won the fight before reaching for his pants.   He’d be dead if he’d reached for his pants first.  That night’s ‘discussion’ reminds me of the economy now: a weak recovery and large debt, competing problems with differing solutions.  Our economic pants are around our ankles and the economy could be clobbered on the head if we don’t choose the right problem to tackle first.

That’s why I hear the ‘whoosh’ of a large hoof whizzing past my head when a politician downplays unemployment, decries the national debt, and offers to save my grandchildren’s future by cutting funds for education to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.  Maybe I’m just naturally suspicious.

The metaphor of family finances is often used to justify cutting government spending during bad times.  The claim is made that a family can’t spend money it doesn’t have, which is pure balderdash.  The vast majority of homes are bought on credit—a mortgage.  And if the adults in a family lose their jobs, they don’t stop feeding or clothing their children.  They go into debt.

The US has trillions of dollars in infrastructure that needs repair and renovation.  With interest rates at all-time lows, lets borrow the money, do the work, get the economy rolling again, and raise taxes later to pay for the deficits.  We did it after the depression and WW II.  Why should we believe it won’t work again?